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  Threemile Canyon Farms Chronology
   

January 30, 2003: More than 100 farm workers organize a 24-hour strike to protest mistreatment and low wages by Threemile Canyon Farms.

February 2003: Sixty-nine workers initiate legal action against Threemile Canyon Farms for failure to pay minimum wage, illegal deductions from their paychecks, and retaliation for organizing activities (First letter advising dairy of claims for wages).

June 27, 2003: Workers complain about an on-going campaign of threats and intimidation against them for demanding representation by the United Farm Workers. One worker, Carlos Jaimez, states, “A fellow worker, vocal about supporting the union, has been removed from his regular job and put in the fields pulling weeds.” According to Jaimez, the worker is barred from speaking to his fellow workers and prohibited from using the bathroom or getting a drink of water from the barn. “The head manager is always there. If he see us talking [with] him, we are fired,” Jaimez says. (Hermiston Herald, “Farm Workers allege threats, mistreatment,” June 27, 2003.)

June 30, 2003: Oregon OSHA issues 12 citations for health and safety violations, 11 of which are categorized as “serious.” They include failing to provide eye protection for workers when using a chemical that may cause blindness, failing to provide protective equipment to workers when using a chemical that burns the eyes, causes skin irritation and is a potential cancer hazard. (OR-OSHA inspection record).

August 19, 2003: Threemile workers air complaints in an article in the Hermiston Herald: “Solorio [a Threemile employee] worries about the chemicals being used at the farm. He doesn’t’ see any changes since OSHA cited the farm.” (Hermiston Herald, “Farm Workers Protest Treatment,” August 19, 2003.)

September, 2003: Forty-seven workers settle minimum wage claims, illegal deductions from their paychecks and retaliation for $40,000 (Final settlement of claims).

September 16, 2003: Twenty-two workers file suit against Threemile Canyon Farms for failing to pay minimum wage, illegal deductions from their paychecks and retaliation. (Alvaro Caldera Flores et. al vs. Columbia River Dairy LLC No. 030910188 Multnomah County Circuit Court, filed in Portland, Oregon).

September 16, 2003: Threemile workers complain about anti-union consultants intimidating workers. Employees also complain farm supervisors are circulating an anti-union petition and threatening workers who don’t sign it. (Hermiston Herald, “Farm workers denounce subsidies,” Sept. 16, 2003.)

February 24, 2004: Threemile workers complain to the Oregonian newspaper in Portland that they are not getting rest breaks as guaranteed by Oregon regulations. They also a file complaint with Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. (Oregonian, “Dairy workers cite poor conditions,” Feb. 24, 2004.)

February 24, 2004: Dairy workers complain they are told to milk cows with infected udders, use front loader tractors to both distribute feed to the cows and use the same loaders to dispose of cow carcasses. (Oregonian, “Dairy workers cite poor conditions,” Feb. 24, 2004.)

March 2004: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality asks Threemile to voluntarily cease spreading manure made from dead cows on food crops grown on the farm. (Oregonian, “Mad Cow scare delay disposal of dead cattle,” March 14, 2004.)

July 2, 2004: Eighteen workers settle their lawsuit against Threemile Canyon Farms for $70,000 over failure to pay minimum wage, illegal deductions from their paychecks and retaliation. (Alvaro Caldera Flores et. al vs. Columbia River Dairy LLC No. 030910188 Multnomah County Circuit Court filed in Portland, Oregon).

Sept. 25, 2004: Three women workers file suit against Threemile for sexual discrimination. Three additional women later join the lawsuit.(Flores v. Columbia River Dairy, No. 0409-09813, Multnomah County Circuit Court, Oregon, filed in Portland, Oregon)

Fall 2004: Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries finds that a shift supervisor did not allow workers to take meal or rest breaks. (East Oregonian, “Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Nelson’s door,” December 10, 2005.)

April 18, 2005: Threemile files report with the Environmental Protection Agency documenting it is releasing 5.6 million pounds of ammonia into the atmosphere each year. According to an EPA database, Threemile the third largest polluter of ammonia in the United States. (April 18, 2005 EPA filing CR-ERNS 754198)

June 3, 2005: United Farm Workers files a complaint with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development regarding conditions at Threemile Canyon Farms.

June 27, 2005: Male worker files lawsuit against Columbia River Dairy for unlawful termination from employment, alleging that he was fired because he was a union organizer and had objected to the sexual discrimination against women by the Dairy. Worker was fired shortly after he gave testimony before the Portland, Oregon, City Council about conditions at the Dairy. (Sepulveda v. Columbia River Dairy, Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 0512-12725 filed in Portland, Oregon).

July 13, 2005: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) agrees to conduct a review of the risk Threemile workers face being exposed to gasses emitted by the farm. (Tri City Herald, “Agency to Probe allegations about dairy,” July 13, 2005.)

July 29, 2005: A front page article in the Oregonian newspaper identifies Threemile Canyon Farms as one of two likely sources of contamination that is causing acid rain in the Columbia Gorge. (Oregonian, “Tracking acid in gorge,” July 29 2005.)

Aug. 22, 2005: Threemile agrees to settle sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by women workers in September 2004 for just under $200,000. As part of the settlement, the farm acknowledges “hiring procedures with respect to the dairy positions did not result in the hiring of female employees until at least Sept. 24, 2004.” (Settlement Agreement and General Release, Flores v. Columbia River Dairy, No. 0409-09813 Multnomah County Circuit Court, Oregon filed in Portland, Oregon).

Nov. 2, 2005: United Farm Workers joins the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Columbia Riverkeeper, the Oregon chapter of the Sierra Club, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Oregon Center for Environmental Health and the Learning Disabilities Association of Oregon in filing a petition with the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency demanding the agency apply the Clean Air Act to agricultural operations such as Threemile Canyon Farms. (Oregonian, “Petition: Close Farms’ loophole on pollution,” November 2, 2005.)

Nov. 10, 2005: Three women workers file a second lawsuit against the farm over sexual discrimination. As part of that action, attorneys file sworn affidavits from 12 current Threemile Canyon Farms employees that reveal dairy co-owner A.J. Bos said, “I don’t want women at the farm—they are only good for the bed.” (Estrada v. Columbia River Dairy Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 0511-11801 filed in Portland, Oregon).

Dec. 15, 2005: OR-OSHA issues five additional citations against Threemile Canyon Farms. Inspection documentation obtained by the agency establishes Threemile has a policy of denying OR-OSHA compliance officers on-site unless they have a warrant. The Farm later confirmed this policy in the February 3, 2006 article titled; “State Cites Threemile Canyon Farm over health, safety issues” in the Tri-City (WA) Herald newspaper.
The violations include:
1) Not providing enough bathrooms for employees
2) Failing to provide workers with information about pesticides used in the break room,
3) Allowing workers to eat their lunches in the break room where an insecticide not approved for use around humans had been applied,
4) Allowing trash receptacles to overflow,
5) Not maintaining screens in the break room windows
(OR-OSHA inspection number 308460757(93))

February 7, 2006: Four workers file suit against the compost operation at Threemile Canyon Farm for failure to pay overtime. One worker’s pay stub shows that he worked 105.5 hours in a single work. (Ramirez et al. v. RDO-Bos Farms LLC, US District Court, Portland, OR).

March 3, 2006: A motion is filed in US District Court in Portland to convert the lawsuit for failure to pay overtime into a class action (Ramirez et al. v. RDO-Bos Farms LLC, Plaintiff Motion for Approval of Hoffman-Laroche Notice, US District Court, Portland, OR CV 06-174-KI).

March 16, 2006: Multnomah County Circuit Court rules in favor of a motion to allow attorneys of former Threemile worker Arturo Sepulveda to plead for punitive damages, as the initial evidentiary burden of establishing Three Mile's willful and malicious actions has been established (Sepulveda v. Columbia River Dairy Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 0512-12725 filed in Portland, Oregon).

March 18, 2006: A motion is filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court to add Juan Martinez as a plaintiff in Sepulveda v. Columbia River Dairy Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 0512-12725 filed in Portland, Oregon). Juan was an employee at Columbia River Dairy and was fired for objecting to unsafe and unlawful labor practices and for encouraging others to support the union.

March 22, 2006: A motion to add seven plaintiffs to Estrada v. Columbia River Dairy was filed in Circuit Court. The plaintiffs state CRD retaliated against them for speaking out against the sexual discrimination (Estrada v. Columbia River Dairy Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 0511-11801 filed in Portland, Oregon).

April 20, 2006: US District court grants motion to conditionally certify the RDO as a representative action under the Fair Labor Standards Act . The court will send a notice to all RDO employees who has worked in the composting operation since February 2003 that a lawsuit for overtime wages has been filed and that they have the right join the lawsuit (Ramirez et al. v. RDO-Bos Farms LLC, Plaintiff Motion for Approval of Hoffman-Laroche Notice, US District Court, Portland, OR CV 06-174-KI).

June 28, 2006: Eleven workers file suit against Columbia River Dairy for having discriminating against them for resisting and objecting to sexual discrimination by having filed affidavits in support of the women who filed sex discrimination claims. (Martin Cobian, Pablo Olvera et al. v. Columbia River Dairy, Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 060606742, filed in Portland, Oregon).

June 28, 2006: Two workers file suit against Columbia River Dairy for wrongful suspension and termination. Juan Martinez complained about dangerous work conditions on behalf of his co-workers and was suspended and fired. Alvaro Caldera was fired for having encouraged his co-workers to support the union. (Juan Martinez and Alvaro Caldera v. Columbia River Dairy, Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 060606743, filed in Portland, Oregon).

August 21, 2006: Threemile Canyon Farms and the United Farm Workers sign an historic agreement which establishes a framework for the resolution of this dispute. The agreement calls for the use of signed union authorization cards to establish majority status (card check election), neutrality, and authorizes the use of binding mediation if good faith negotiations fail to produce a contract after an agreed upon time.

September 18, 2006: Two workers file suit for unlawful termination of employment. The complaint argues that Gerardo Sanguino was wrongfully fired for demanding higher wages and encouraging other workers to engage in concerted activity. The second worker, David Calderon, engaged in and encouraged other workers to engage in concerted activity and was retaliated against for supporting UFW and to discourage and intimidate workers from supporting the UFW. (Gerardo Sanguino and David Calderon v. RDO Bos Farms LLC., Columbia River Dairy LLC, Threemile Canyon Farms, LLC. Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 06090966 filed in Portland, Oregon.)

October 11, 2006: Twenty eight past and current RDO BOS Farms LLC employees have filed claims under the FLSA for overtime compensation as part of the (Ramirez et al. v. RDO-Bos Farms) (see April 20, 2006 entry above).